If you think the country has gone rugby mad, you'd be right. But it seems most people have things in perspective, just.

The Herald on Sunday commissioned a poll of 501 Auckland residents to find out which one of four key events would have the greatest impact on their lives this year: the Auckland supercity, the Canterbury earthquakes, the Rugby World Cup or November's general election.

More respondents felt the election would have a bigger impact than the other three: 27.3 per cent selected it as the most influential event this year.

But rugby was a close second, at 26.3 per cent.


As we only polled Aucklanders, it's perhaps not surprising the earthquakes rated significant for just 24 per cent of people, and the supercity with 13.6 per cent.

The margin of error in the Key Research survey is 4.38 per cent. About 9 per cent of people didn't know which event to rank the most important.

Acting director of AUT University's Institute of Public Policy, Associate Professor Love Chile, said he was not surprised New Zealanders rated the rugby and the election so close.

"I think there are three things to take into account. The World Cup has a very emotional impact so people can relate to it, they can feel it, they can taste it, they can experience it.

"They know that the World Cup is just six weeks and then it will go away. The election will come again in three years so why worry about something that is going to come again?"

He said the outcome of the election seemed more predictable than the World Cup.

"The indications are that the major opposition party, Labour, is in a mess. We've got a leadership that's not instilling a lot of confidence. Whereas we've got John Key leading a group of fairly established people."

He said it was important to remember the World Cup was also an opportunity to improve infrastructure such as public transport and the economic benefit of the event would filter down to ordinary Kiwis as well.

Chile said even the chaos caused by trains, buses and ferries unable to cope with volumes of rugby fans at last Friday's opening could be used to Auckland's advantage.

"When the ferry services were not running, it was not because there were no ferries. When the trains were not running it was not because there weren't enough trains. It's because everything terminates at the Britomart. But you have to look at why people can only pick up the train at Britomart.

"We have to look at why this happened. Central government needs to talk to Auckland Council. That's why when people say it was a disaster, I say, no, I think it's a positive economic opportunity to improve services."

Rugby New Zealand 2011 communications manager Mike Jaspers said he too was not surprised by the results.

"It all augers well for the remainder of the tournament and clearly the evidence of how much impact RWC 2011 is having is out there every day as we see New Zealanders go to matches, welcome teams and really celebrate this event."